Naqsh-e Rajab

Naqsh-e Rajab historical structure

Naqsh-e Rajab is an archaeological site just east of Istakhr and about 12 km north of Persepolis in Fars Province, Iran. Together with Naqsh-e Rustam, which lies less than a kilometer away, the site is part of the Marvdasht cultural complex. Naqsh-e Rajab is the site of four limestone rock face inscriptions and bas-reliefs that date to the early Sassanid era.

One of the carvings is the investiture inscription of Ardeshir I (r. 226-241), the founder of the dynasty. The second investiture inscription is Ardeshir’s successor, Shapur I (r. 241-272). A third bas-relief, known as “Shapur’s Parade”, celebrates the king’s military victory in 244 over the Roman emperor Valerian and Philip the Arab. A fourth bas-relief and inscription is attributed to Kartir, high priest under Shapur I and his sons Hormizd I (r. 272-273) and Bahram I (r. 273-276).The most important document on this site, however, is the carving of the high priest Karter, the Mobad-e-mobadan (priest of priests) under three Sassanian emperors: Shapur, Bahram I and II. His head can be seen just behind and above the pedestrian investiture scene, partially covered by branches of a green bush. He has necklace and his crooked finger is covered by an inscription of greatest importance. Here it is related how he as high priest has purified religion and cleansed the land of heresy (probably the Manichaeans) with fire and sword. He is the only non-royal person appearing on a carving.

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